A view of special joint project “Gute aussichten” for the 4th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art by the Austrian Cultural Forum in Moscow and the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science, Art and Culture.

Alexander Povsner belongs to a young generation of artists who work in the tradition of Moscow Conceptualism.

For the exhibition the artist has created a simple pair of shoes, fused together and filled with plaster, the material which often figures in the artist’s work. “Standby” is placed in the cloakroom, among the shoes. For non-Russians there is an important detail to consider here. In a Russian home the cloakroom always contains a large number of shoes; indeed, on entering, guests usually remove their street shoes and put on a pair of house slippers. Nowhere are the comings and goings in a Russian apartment better reflected than in its cloakroom. Highlighting this particular location is meant to underscore the building’s special history. The essence of this famous building’s history derives from the privilege of being able to move in to an apartment in the House on the Embankment—or being forced to move out of the House on the Embankment, often involuntarily and with fatal consequences. With “Standby” Alexander Povsner has managed to halt that ever unfolding history for an instant and to involve the visitors at the exhibition—who leave their shoes at the threshold—in his work, making them part of the history of the building and the work of art.

From the exhibition catalogue